Inevitability Of Womenomics
Prof. Kanhaiya Mathema
The future of the world economy lies increasingly in female hands”-The Economist, 12th April 2006.
It has been increasingly visualised that the hands that swing the cradle have increasingly contributed in the production of goods and services all over the world. Manufacturers and sorporate houses have realised that it is worth hanging on to women in their business with the promotion of womenomics. It is a foregone conclusion in the western world that women hands are very much worth hiring and inexpensive source of profit. Surely, Nepal by no means can be an exception in this regard, Womenomics (The term was originally coined by Kathy Matsui, an advocate for women in Japan) could be a true source of economic growth in any countries.
This is Shinzo Abe’s response to his country’s continuous economic stagnation stretching from the bursting of Japan’s real estate and stock market bubble in 1991 until 2010. It is referred to as Japan’s “Lost Two Decades.” The idea is such that women’s participation in productive process can improve the economy as a whole at a cheaper cost. The productive units with a change in work culture, could introduce women workforce entrusting them with leadership roles that could boost units’ output.
Shinzo Abe proposed womenomics as a solution to the problem of the shrinking workforce in Japan where the women’s share of job is still less than 40 per cent. Many women quit their jobs after their first child birth. Abe has tried to extricate Japan from this situation and empower women. Retention of women on the jobs is not only a means to the solutions of many of the demographic challenges but also a remedy of economic growth and development in the long run.
Despite a “baby boom, after World War II, Japan experienced a rapid decline in the fertility owing to the government sponsored family planning services. The fertility rate was registered below replacement level since the 1970s raising the age dependency ratio having implications on economic burden to the government treasury.
The womenomics initiative is a step towards attracting more women in the workforce that is expected to decrease the negative financial impact of aging population and decreasing fertility. More women in the work place in some countries of Europe such as Sweden has raised the fertility level. On the other hand, it is also a step to accelerate the growth engine. For this, it is necessary to recruiting and promoting women not only in public sector but also in the private sector equally.
It is no exaggeration that girls, particularly in the developed countries, surpass the boys in education sector. More number of girls are getting university degrees than the boys. They are also filling more job vacancies compared to that of the boys.
Promotion of feminism for women empowerment and gender equality in every sector of the economy is the demand of the time. Its promotion could play a pivotal role in the generation of value added goods and services in Nepal as well given the fact that the economically active female population is ever increasing since the first scientific population census of 1951-54. The significance of women population, projected to reach 14,665,815 in 2016, becomes clear since women comprise more than 50 per cent of the total population giving a lower sex ratio of less than hundred.
It establishes a positive relationship between the growth of an economy and empowerment of women virtually improving the economy as a whole. It generally circumvents gender inequality in workforce. However, to give a “shot in the arms”, it is always important not only to hire more women but also to entrust them with leadership roles in the workplace that is less happening in our country as in other developing countries. Aspirations for a bright future are engraved in gender equality and women empowerment as has been enunciated in the Sustainable Development Goals with universality, integration and transformation.
Our country suffers from a very miserable work ethos. Employers are always happy to hire “Yes” men or “Yes” women. While the would-be employees are bound by the “point of reflexive obedience” that has become a part and parcel of our work culture. It is responsible for the emergence of social, political and economic inequalities in the country. Ban Ki- Moon in his “We the Peoples” has highlighted the crucial role of gender equality as driver of development progress. Unfortunately, it had not been fully realised in countries like Nepal.
It has been proved that women hands are incredibly valuable and inconveniently inexpensive to replace in any productive units including the service sector. In fact, buoyancy is generated in the production sector and the whole economy generates dynamism and becomes vibrant raising the level of growth.
Albeit, to reap the benefits out of womenomics, it is very much important to give thoughts to and materialise three pillars of women leadership. They are said to be Pathway pillar, position pillar and power pillar.
A women’s leadership position is likely to be shaped by the accessibility to pathway pillar that enables her to entering to such position. It is always reflected in her caliber and wit. Women who twinkle in teaching, finance, medicine, law and other such aliened sectors are conceivably a grand emblem of such pillar. In our own context, more females are entering in these arenas at present.
Similarly, position pillar is the measure of the representation of accession to the leadership position at various national and subnational levels of the government. It is basically the exercising of the executive power by the women who are expected to deliver their function as per the rules and regulations of the administrative structure of the country.
Power pillar is the inscription of any formal or informal powers vested with the woman holding leadership position. The executive office or the highest office of the land by law is the right image of this pillar Nepal is proud to have a woman in this position. It is as true as “morning shows the day”. Holding at least 30 per cent political seats by the women is said to have more inclusive, egalitarian, and democratic set up of the country. This could be taken as a green signal to gender diversity in the economy. Further efforts are indeed desirable to enthrone 50 per cent women at all levels of the government “machineries and private sector by 2030.
(Professor Mathema is currently associated with the Ph.D. programme at the Central Department of Economics, Tribhuvan University)